NBA Stars and their Marvel Counterparts
With the NBA playoffs in full swing and Avengers: Infinity War just days away, it bares noting the similarities between the two forms of superheroes that dominate today’s popular culture. So, without further ado, here are the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalents to today’s NBA superstars.
LeBron James — Captain America
Cap and the King have quite a lot in common. They’re both nearly invincible, regenerative, and unnaturally ripped (to be clear, I am in no way implying that LeBron uses or has ever used PEDs or Super Soldier Serum; it’s just hard to believe how insanely jacked that dude is sometimes). But what really connects these two icons is their leadership skills. LeBron makes his teammates better both on and off the court the way few players have in league history. Similarly, Steve Rogers is the symbolic leader of the Avengers, managing the ego of Tony Stark and the recklessness of the Incredible Hulk. Zoom out even more, and it is apparent that both are the faces of their respective leagues. LeBron James is the NBA, Captain America is Marvel, and it’s hard to imagine either league without them in it. Also worth mentioning: both LeBron James’ and Chris Evans’ contracts expire this offseason.
James Harden — Iron Man
Both of these characters represent innovation. Tony Stark the Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist, created the Arc Reactor, a technological marvel of self-sustaining energy efficiency. Similarly, Harden and his Houston Rockets represent the pinnacle of innovation and efficiency in this new era of basketball. General Manager Daryl Morey implores Harden and his teammates to take a vast majority of their shots either at the rim or behind the 3-point arc, because math. Morey also co-founded the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which has become the Mecca for innovation in the sports world. This conference is hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the same school from which Tony Stark graduated.
Stephen Curry — Hawkeye
This one is easy. While Steph is obviously much more valuable to the Warriors than Clint Barton is to the Avengers, these are hands down the two best sharpshooters in their respective universes. Hawkeye nailing a Chitauri soldier with a no-look arrow shot during the climactic New York battle in the first Avengers movie is equivalent to Steph hitting a 35-foot game winning 3 in overtime against the Oklahoma City Thunder back in 2016. Not to mention, they’re both scratch golfers. It is also worth noting that Hawkeye has yet to appear on any of the promotional material for Infinity War, and Steph has yet to make an appearance in this year’s postseason due to an MCL sprain.
Donavan Mitchell — Spider-Man
Mitchell’s “Spida” moniker and Twitter handle were given to him by a former teammate’s father a few years back. The nickname fits; Mitchell is deceptively quick, durable, and surprisingly athletic. He also has arachnid-like arm length for a combo-guard. But consider the character of Spider-Man, particularly the MCU’s rendition of him from Captain America: Civil War and later Spider-Man: Homecoming. Peter Parker is somewhat of a boy among men, trying to prove himself as a legitimate Avenger. Donavan Mitchell is looking to do the same thing in this year’s postseason.
Manu Ginóbili — Dr. Strange
Is there a more unconventional, unorthodox, downright mystical player in the NBA to compare to the Sorcerer Supreme? I think not. Regardless of his age (Manu is just a year and 9 days younger than Benedict Cumberbatch), Ginóbili is a wizard with the basketball. His patented Argentine-Eurostep move through defenses as if he were entering and exiting alternate dimensions with each step. Watching Manu play has a similar impact to watching the Inception-esque Dr. Strange movie: You’ll find yourself asking “what the hell is happening?” quite often. But you still enjoy it. Ginóbili can also be compared to Stephen Strange’s bald mentor, The Ancient One, for a few obvious reasons.
Klay Thompson — Silver Surfer
Okay, so technically Silver Surfer is a Fox property and therefore not an MCU character (yet), but as a Marvel nerd and devout Klaytheist, the comp to Klay Thompson is just too perfect for me to ignore. The Silver Surfer, one of the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe, is described on the Marvel Wiki as “a melancholy global wanderer.” Klay Thompson, a player who is capable of scoring 60 points in 29 minutes, just wants to drink a beer while discussing his team’s fouling issues during a postgame interview. The Silver Surfer often travels through space, and Klay Thompson is known to space out during media availability. Both of characters are extremely gifted at what they do, but seem to be indifferent about doing it. And, while this is purely speculation, I would bet money that both Klay and the Silver Surfer smoke a ton of weed.